How do People React to Cultural Differences?

All people are innately programmed to think logically.  Otherwise, they would in danger eliminating themselves from the gene pool.  What culture does, and it’s called socialization, is too within the confines of survivability rear and teaches their children to survive in the culture and environment they will inhabit.  This is for both the benefit of the individual and the benefit of that person’s people group. 

What is different are the presuppositions of the culture.  Often called the world view it is the basic moral and value assumptions of that culture.  Ethnocentrism is an example.  All people assume their culture is normal and every other culture is strange.  The culture is often built upon skills necessary for the individual and culture to survive in its environment.

10 Tips for Responding to Cultural Differences

How to Engage Different Cultures:

  1. Keep an Open Mind

The ability to keep opinions flexible and receptive to new stimuli is important to intercultural adjustment. Even if you don’t understand why people do a particular thing, be careful not to jump to conclusions.

  1. Learn to Cope with Failure

Learning to tolerate failure is critical because everyone fails at something overseas!

  1. Be Flexible

The ability to respond to or tolerate the ambiguity of new situations is very important to intercultural success. Keeping options open and judgmental behavior to a minimum helps you adapt well.

  1. Maintain a Healthy Curiosity

Curiosity is the demonstrated desire to know about other people, places, ideas, etc. This personality trait is important for intercultural travelers because they need to learn many things in order to adapt to their new environment.

  1. Hold Positive and Realistic Expectations

There are strong correlations between positive expectations for an intercultural experience and successful adjustment overseas. Being realistic in what to expect will help you feel prepared for any situation.

  1. Be Tolerant of Differences

A sympathetic understanding of beliefs or practices different from your own is key to successful intercultural adjustment.

  1. Regard Others Positively

The ability to express warmth, empathy, respect, and positive regard for other persons is an important component of effective intercultural relations. Try to think of things you really enjoy or like about their culture and embrace differences.

  1. Be Good Guests

As a guest in someone’s home, you would never remark about the “dirty” kitchen, the “terrible” food, or the “crazy” seating arrangement. As a traveler you are, in a broad sense, going into someone’s “home.” Show respect.

  1. Have a Sense of Humor

A sense of humor is important because in another culture so many things can lead to intense emotions. Sadness, anger, annoyance, embarrassment and discouragement are all common. The ability to laugh in spite of the circumstances will help guard against despair.

  1. Have Fun

It’s okay to acknowledge cultural differences – don’t take them too seriously and don’t hold an “I’m right/You’re wrong” attitude. Relax, have fun, and enjoy your new friends.

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